Treatment and prevention of diarrhoea

Treatment and prevention of diarrhoea

Are there home remedy solutions for diarrhea/diarrhoea and how long will it last?

Diarrhoea/diarrhea will commonly last about two to four days for adults and around five to seven days in infants. It can often be an infectious condition and it is best to avoid people if you currently have diarrhoea. Try to stay home for two days and avoid swimming pools for two weeks in order to not infect other people.

In terms of home remedies for acute diarrhoea, the most important thing to do is to drink small sips of water constantly so as to avoid dehydration. Your urine should always be clear or a light yellow colour. If it is bright yellow and has a noticeably strong smell, you need to drink more water.

Woman with hot water bottle

It also helps to have soup in order to get salt (sodium) into your body to help you to have more energy. It is advised that you avoid fluids that have a high sugar content as these may create a further loss of water from osmosis (water passing through a membrane) via your gut.

When you are not feeling as nauseous and feel ready to eat, try starting with potatoes, bananas, rice and vegetables.

Placing a hot water bottle over your stomach area can also soothe abdominal cramps.

Chronic diarrhoea is considered far more serious, and requires attention from your doctor. Depending on the underlying condition, he/she may refer you to a specialist such as a gastroenterologist in order to ensure proper treatment. The duration of chronic diarrhoea is completely dependent on the cause, be it medication or a bowel condition.

Can I buy over-the-counter medication for diarrhoea?

There are certain medications available from your pharmacist, however, it is important to keep in mind that these are intended to treat acute diarrhoea and not to cure a more chronic case, in this situation, you will need to consult with your doctor.

Some medications for acute diarrhoea

There are two types of medicines to help treat diarrhoea, those that slow down the intestinal spasms and those that thicken the stool.

Antispasmodic anti-diarrheal medications

  • These slow down the movements or otherwise known as spasms of the intestine, these include products such as Imodium. It is best that you avoid taking this medication in cases of acute diarrhoea where the cause is likely to be viral or bacterial. It is better to allow your body to experience the diarrhoea as this is the body’s natural and protective way of getting rid of the organism causing harm and to ensure that you replenish lost fluid with an oral rehydration solution. This medication is not recommended for children younger than two years old.


  • Mixtures such as psyllium, which is a bulk forming laxative, helps to combine the stool and absorb water, making it more firm.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist about what would be the best solution for your diarrheic condition based on your symptoms. 

Prescribed medication for diarrhea:

Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed for diarrhoea caused by bacteria or parasites, however, if the cause is a virus, then antibiotics will not be the solution.

How can I prevent diarrhea?

It is not always possible to prevent diarrhea, especially in the chronic cases as these can be a direct result of medication or a more severe underlying condition. However, it is always good practice the following to try and prevent contracting acute diarrhoea:

  • Wash your hands after going to the toilet.
  • Don’t share items that you have put in your mouth.
  • Wash soiled linen or clothes at a high temperature to kill off any germs.
  • Keep hydrated.
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